Saturday, July 14, 2012

CRPD Hearing

Have you ever seen movie Iron Lady? That movie combines two loves of mine: Meryl Streep and British politics. Although, I only give the movie an average rating I love the parts of the movie in the House of Commons. I love the way the House of Commons operates: the fighting, the laughter, the thinking on your feet. I always saw this as a distinctly British phenomenon. Turns out, our senate hearings can contain some of these very same features. Senators were bantering with one another, witnesses and senators alike got mocked and shut down more than once, and two other senators joked about the length of time our government takes to do anything. It was actually quite entertaining!  

After the hearing I did my best to try and back away from my own desires to see this treaty passed to understand the arguments against it. It seems that the main argument against the treaty is the fear of the loss of sovereignty. This is actually a valid fear. If I remember anything from my international politics classes it is this: if an action requires cooperation between nations there will be some loss of sovereignty for each nation involved in the cooperative effort.

The main opponent of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) within the United States, the Home School Legal Defense Association, I think; however, has taken this fear to extremes. In the fear of the loss of State sovereignty they claim that this treaty is a “radical attempt to take away parental rights.” They fear that if we ratify the treaty the International community will be able to tell the United States what actions are in the best interest of a disabled child and the United States will have to comply and, in turn, the government will be able to tell a parent what to do to care for their disabled child.

I understand their fears to an extent, but I would have to ask them a question: When was the last time the United States gave up that much sovereignty to the International community as to effect parental rights? Never. The United States has set a pretty high standard for the treatment of people with disabilities. Admittedly, we can learn a lot from nations like Norway and England but the only thing the International community can do is offer us suggestions for improving our systems. We, in turn, can decide whether these suggestions fit with our way of life or not. (The Department of Justice made sure of this with some Reservations, Understandings and Declarations).

The United States knows how to protect both its National and its States’ sovereignty. I think this treaty is not only good for 650 million people with disabilities worldwide but I also think it is the necessary next step for improving our lives. It is the necessary next step for our blatantly ablest world to open up it’s eyes and realize that the ever growing minority group that reaches across all social, economic and political boundaries deserves the opportunity of life, respect and dignity.    

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